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A skipper's responsibility

Every skipper in New Zealand is responsible for the safety of those on board, no matter how big or small the boat is. This means managing the risks of being on the water at all times.

Even though a licence is not required to operate a pleasure boat in New Zealand, ignorance of any maritime rules or bylaws is no excuse for failure to comply.  Non-compliance can lead to fines or prosecution.

If you are the skipper of your vessel you must:

  • Ensure you have all the necessary equipment on board for the trip you intend to make.
  • Make sure everyone on board knows what safety equipment is carried, where it is stowed and how it works.
  • The driver of any powerboat capable of speeds in excess of 10 knots must be 15 years of age or over.
  • Know the rules of the road at sea and the local bylaws.
  • Never overload your boat with people or equipment.
  • Make sure everything on board is properly stowed and secured.
  • Always maintain your boat, its motor, electrics and equipment.
  • Check everything before you head out.
  • Check the marine weather forecast and tide times before you head out.
  • Listen for regular updates while you are out on the water.
  • Always carry two forms of communication and make sure they are waterproof.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol intake on board your boat.
  • Always keep a good lookout.
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back and do a trip report with Coastguard.
  • Report any oil or fuel spills to our 24 hour Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883.
  • All maritime incidents/accidents must be reported to the Harbourmaster and Maritime New Zealand immediately.

Reporting an incident

Please use the below details to report incidents.

You must also provide a written report within 48 hours via email to